Urban Confrontation; 10; Hubert Humphrey
Thank one. There are a certain number of student radicals and others that display all the symptoms of a fascist mentality. That is they admire intolerant of other people's attitudes they use stormtrooper tactics they spread fear and they cause disarray and disorder. But I don't think you ought to blanket under that charge.
It's hundreds of other young people who get involved in demonstrations. I think that's wrong with the thing that worried me worries me about the situation A develop like of Massachusetts which has no dramatic experience it happens from time to time. The thing it worries me is that it puts fuel under the fires of repression and oppression in a country it permits certain people in this country to say look what happened and they charge all students with these activities and these actions. I've seen the present vice president do some of that which I didn't like and I don't want that to happen the very people that were talking about. Injustice and the lack of fair treatment of defendants in Chicago and so on. These are very people by their activities by the method of their activity by the method of their protests not their protest because I protest to what happens but by their method. I have just strengthened the hands of the worst demagogues and the worst reactionaries in
America. Urban confrontation an analysis of the continuing crises facing 20th century man in the American city. Today's recorded guest is human age Humphrey former vice president of the United States. Today's program you heard Humphrey on The Politics of Dissent. Questions asked in the following program are merely the moderator's method of presenting many sides of today's topic. Here is your host Joseph R. Bader. Of all of the statesmen who have dominated American political life in the past three decades certainly one of the most significant catalysts for social reform and social change in this country has been former Vice President Hubert H Humphrey. As mayor of
Minneapolis and as senator from the state of Minnesota Mr. Humphrey became one of the most liberal politicians in the post-World War Two period minority rights on nuclear disarmament are but two of the movements that have carried the Humphrey influence. And then as vice president under Lyndon Johnson Humphrey became the target for much of the antagonism and protest of the country's youth anti-Vietnam sentiment. A few weeks ago we talked about the politics of dissent with Mr. Humphrey in the backseat of a car speeding toward the western Massachusetts airport. And we asked Mr. Humphrey to what extent he thought that the extremism of the 1960s in the early 1970s might be seen as a revolt against middle class morality and values against the unexciting nature of the system. The unexciting way of life of the American middle class here was Mr. Humphries response. Well I suppose there are some of that course. I think this is a very exciting time to be alive. I don't know how you know what can be more exciting than to see a whole country
change in its attitudes about race. And I think it's very exciting when you see a great movements of progress and change in our institutions of higher education. I think it's very exciting when you see America for the first time being deeply involved in the arts and the humanities. New galleries new symphony orchestras the vast numbers of new leaders in the field of all forms of art the dance literature poetry music. These are exciting things I think is very exciting when you see what's happening in medical science. I think it's exciting when you see what's happened in behavioral science. I would share your feeling about this excitement yet there must be some reason why upper middle class young people drop out that's the phrase drop out of what we're having for you and for most Americans as an exciting way of life and yet for a vocal minority is not. I wish I knew why they felt that way. I can understand that there are many frustrations but this is not an unique experience and in history
there are frustrations. But we've had them before. I think one of the reasons that there is some of this drop out is that some of the causes to which young people are presently committed is something that they've never experienced. For example many young people today are bitterly opposed to war. And I hope they are actually the ones that are the most bitterly opposed to never been near one. They have the shelter of a college and that doesn't mean that they ought not to be opposed to it but I mean it is an experience that they've had much of what they see as the wrong things that in a sense they have not had as a personal wrong. This doesn't mean that things are wrong it doesn't mean there isn't prejudice it doesn't mean that there isn't racism because there is. And young people ought to be concerned about it. But many of our upper income middle group in America have really had it quite easy. I mean there really has and I think their problem is a hasn't been a real challenge.
They were to point this out to them. How would you ask them to recognize this back to have this back qualify as some of their rhetoric. I'd say get down and do something about it. Now young a number of our young people have they've gone into the Peace Corps. They have done great things. There's a tremendous number of young people in America today that volunteer for all kinds of social action programs and they're very brave and adventuresome and I think a very socially conscious group. But the ones that I am talking about are not frequently those people that don't get down into the slums to work. You don't really pick up for the disabled and the handicapped and the victims of prejudice and intolerance. I give young people a lot of things to do when they want to make a better life. Go on out and work in these institutions for the mentally retarded or the handicapped for the cripple. Help my people that are in these old people's homes make their life better. Share your life with them. I think these things would be very helpful. And by the way hundreds of
thousands of young people are doing that. But those that are doing that are not the ones that are really the rebels and they are the ones that have concern that want things to be improved and are doing things to improve things. After all there's a number of our young people today that are changing the political process. They're moving in on it. They've changed universities. Let me say in respect to our some of our young militants I think the word militance not a bad word at all I'm glad that young people are militant a lot of things that the older generation has not liked. That young people do like on campuses. Actually has made it what they've done is made campuses better. They've made education better and they have made it more relevant. They have improved the curriculum. They have made the educational system more responsive to their needs. Not only their physical but their emotional and spiritual needs. And I think this is good. Now the fact is that at some of the college administrators and faculty been a little more alert and a little more sensitive
to the needs of these young people that would needed to been such militancy. But the militancy frequently was part of a pattern that brought about change. So you have to be very careful when you scold you don't want to become the town's goal. I think we have to understand that a great as stably system has an inbuilt in flexibility. I don't think we ought to overdo. That's what I'm saying. The emphasis upon the disarray today. It isn't something it's new to America. America has had a lot of violence in it. This doesn't mean we ought to like it or condone it but it is a historical fact. I just want to see our young people look at the system that we have not to destroy it but to change it to improve it and to use the means that we have as well as new means that they create to do it. I'd like to change the draft of our conversation. But but I'm not for this juncture for the past three years. Water has been a national issue and
I would say that everyone in every society needs a law and order. It's always been a curiosity to me why you liberals ever allow this issue to be preempted by the Republican Party and by George Wallace How did they corner the market on the law and order issue something that's essential for every civilization. I wish I knew. Of course when you speak of law and order you better speak of it all the way across the board. No one can be in favor of street crime I hope. I hope that no one is in favor of organized crime. And I trust that no one feels that violence is the pattern that should be the pattern of the day we can't condone these things. But once again you say that you also have got to remember that we have laws about other things we have laws on building codes that are violated. They ought to be enforced. We have laws on pollution that have been violated for years and law and order requires that they be indoors. We have laws about race relations equal opportunity that have been violated. They ought to be
enforced. So I'm a lot harder man but all across the board I don't think a lot of water simply means taking a fellow than speeding. I don't think it means merely getting a hold of somebody that's drunk. I think gone order must relate to the total pattern of established conduct in a society. Violence in America may not only be street violence it may very well be violence against a person's personality. Violence against his race his religion and that kind of violence ought to be subject to law and order as well. Let's take a look at violence in the context not only of this phrase law and order but also in the context of the student demonstrations that we were talking about a few moments ago how do you feel about some of the tactics of protest being used for example who were booed off a stage at a university here in Massachusetts now. How do you react to this sort of thing. Well first of all I I wouldn't sat was booed off I decided to get off. And the reason I decided to do is I did not want to. Limited number of activists and students and many of them not students to
use the university facilities for what I consider rather outrageous performance. I'm a professor I believe it ought to carry some dignity. I believe that a university ought to be an arena for the fearless examination of ideas it ought to be a safe haven for even the most orthodox of ideas and utterances. I believe that there ought to be respectful attention given to the exchange of ideas and when I saw a pattern that was developing that did not permit that I was ready to lend myself as one of the participants in a meal in a sort of a verbal brawl which I thought would demean the university. Now what do you do about things like years especially when the people in gauging it. Ostensibly in favor of free speech of a corner the market on the truth do you ever get that impression. Free speech for me but not for you. I do get that impression from some. I have a feeling that some people don't really believe in free speech they believe in their right to speak and in their right
and privilege duty to stop others from speaking. And all I can say and I just put it very directly I think that these are matters that university students are going to have to face up to. University students must have their own ground rules now if that's the kind of ground rules they want. That's fine that's up to them because you won't get many people to participate. But I think that as an University of Massachusetts a wonderful university and a fine campus and a delightful and a very gifted student body. I think that the young people there must come to grips with this type of behavior. Discipline their associates themselves. Now that is exactly what I'd like to talk about because at a certain time in the history of the United States when the Communist Party was a threat on the left the Americans for Democratic Action was formed by liberal people whose were seeking to police their own to separate themselves from the phyla is a similar organization needed by liberals who don't want to be linked with the fanatics of the left and yet who want to
push for positive social change. Student Organization. I surely think so. I definitely think so and I believe that even students that do not want to join such organizations need to in a sense be sufficiently responsive to the needs of a campus that they do something about it instead of Hubert Humphrey walking out of the off the platform. It would have been much more impressive if the 4000 some students that were not demonstrating would have said we are going to leave them or had they asked. Others and demanded and the others who were disrupting the meeting that they lead. Now that wasn't my meeting it was for them that assumed that to my presentation would not have been worthy of the attention of the audience. But let's assume that somebody else had been there and the same thing Id taken place. Somebody that had a great message to give. Who is the loser. The man to give the message or the people that were to listen. I think that the people that were to listen would have been the
loser. And I think that young people can do this I don't believe that university authorities alone can police these things nor should they. I think that we have to have our own body of conduct or conduct. And when that happens then I think a lot of this very disorderly type of demonstration will come to an end. Now we don't need to have. Saw a little gathering and nobody asked questions and nobody speaks up. In fact. What could have happened and what should have happened was for a question answer period in which questions are asked pointedly new rector at the speaker with plenty of evidence to support the body of their question and then let the speaker C.V can answer. Now that's an educational experience at the University of Massachusetts at a handful of people denied that educational experience. We should remind our audience that we're talking with you would come free in an interview in his car going through the woodlands of eastern Massachusetts and vice president hungry let's shift our conversation at this point to this question.
Similar denials of educational experience and free speech occurred in the Weimer Republic and 1930s in Germany. This is an increasingly popular analogy an analogy between some of the things that are going on in contemporary America and the rise of fascism in Germany. How much strength is there to that analogy. There are two significant people recently who have pointed out the danger of homegrown fascism a North American continent. My father has been president of Notre Dame and recently in a program interview and in this series the doctor in San Francisco State University Dr. High Akala thought that fascism would come oddly enough from the left from the student left. I don't know I have a feeling that it hasn't gone that far. There are a certain number. Student radicals and others that display all the symptoms of a fascist mentality. That is they have very intolerant of other people's attitudes they use stormtrooper tactics they spread fear and
they cause disarray and disorder. But I don't think you ought to blanket under that charge. It's hundreds of other young people who get involved in demonstrations. I think that's wrong with the thing that worried me worries me about the situation A develop like of Massachusetts which has no dramatic experience it happens from time to time. The thing that worries me is that it puts fuel under the fires of repression and oppression in a country it permits certain people in this country to say look what happened and they charge all students with these activities and these actions. I've seen the president vice president do some of that which I didn't like but I don't want that to happen the very people that were talking about. In justice and the lack of fair treatment of defendants in Chicago and so on. These are very people by their activities by the method of their activity by the method of their protests not their protest because I protest to what happens
but by their methods. Have just strengthened the hands of the worst demagogues and the worst reactionaries in America. And it's it's frightening when you see that happen. Now we could have had a very good honest discussion about. Court procedure the rights of defendants contempt procedures and everything it related to the trial in Chicago we couldn't discuss Vietnam we can discuss Middle East people have honest differences of opinion about these things. And that's what a platform is for. We ought to have that variety of opinion. But when you get to a point where you can't answer a question because somebody use I mean you hollers obscenities threatens you or shouts and shouts you down. That's not education. That's not that's intimidation and that's beautification and that has no place in a university. You speak of giving ammunition putting fuel on the fire of reactionary forces. To what extent is there a possibility realistically speaking I have a
great right wing not only conservative but extreme right wing reaction to what is going on in the United States today. Do you think get 10 15 20 years we would see a left wing action in the 1960s and 70s as it was merely a footnote in what was a basically a conservative broad conservative tide moving the United States out of the last third of the 20th century. No I do not because I think we've got too much good sense I think there's a basic reservoir of decency and goodwill in this country despite all of the downgrading of what we call liberalism. There is a progressive attitude of mind in America in every facet of our life. Government industry Church Education. And while I know there are these pirates. And that's when I have to call them out. The extremism of left and right. And while I know there are some racists and I know there are some demagogues and I know there are some people who would engage in forms of repression and others
on the right and others on the left that would do it. The fact of the matter is the great body of the American people does not want it. And with any kind of sensible leadership from any of us that that majority of the American people is not going to become fascistic not going to become repressive. We're we're going to have to put up a fight. We're going to have to take a stand and I'm going to be one of those in. The mass media is often accused of being too gloom and doom oriented and perhaps we should leave this point of the conversation on that optimistic note. And yet I don't think we realistically count I'd like to pursue this if we can to the current commission reported in 1988 that America was moving toward two societies black and white to separate out I'm equal but there was some social legislation has been passed in the past few years the plight of the average Afro-American or Indian or Spanish American apparently has not improved appreciably. And I wonder if you think Americans will ever read in their history books of 50 70 100
years from now about a second American Civil War. In other words if things are getting worse for minority groups where is this country headed. Well my friend Don I don't believe that as bad as people say. The disputes of the 60s the American human condition. I think has improved dramatically. Despite all the disorder despite all the charges and countercharges I think there's always a danger that we may not do enough and we may not do it fast enough. And I am not unaware of the great body of prejudice in this society but I think that much is being done about it and more could be done. It's ironic that improvement there when it's been most rapid is at the very same time when they Argee of crisis and discontent reached its climax. The rhetoric is somewhat divorced from reality that's what I've got Sabian I just noted down a few facts here. When we judge human progress so we do it on the basis of such things as income employment
housing education social opportunity. Well back in 1960 we had twenty two and a half percent of our population living in what we call conditions of poverty some 40 million thousand nine hundred sixty eight. We had 12 and a half percent. These are actual figures now. In other words from 40 billion down to 25. Disposable income across the board whites blacks and all. One thousand sixty two thousand one hundred twenty nine dollars per capita one hundred sixty eight two thousand nine hundred twenty eight dollars. An increase of 31 percent now let's take a look at blacks with inflation though you'll have a show called Dollar constant as constant dollars not inflated dollars. In 1959 nonwhite families made 50 percent as much money as white families in one thousand sixty eight. They made 68 percent as much money as well as white families. Non-white employment unemployment black unemployment 1961 12 and a half percent 969 six point two percent. Now nest take a look for example at
Bob and non-whites in white collar work. In 1960 there were 16 percent and one thousand sixty eight twenty six percent. So we have made progress in colleges and education. I got noted down here in 1960 blacks of high school aged only 39 percent of pleated high school. Nineteen sixty eight fifty eight percent. And this is a much greater increase in the whites so we we've made progress negroes that have been doing better and it hasn't been good enough for them. And rising expectations rising expectations I just don't think we ought to pretend that it's all bad I think what we ought to say is we've made some beginning it's just beginning. We ought to do a lot more. And that's where leadership comes in today. This is where the president and the vice president and others must not condone or must not play around with the segregationist must not lean over to slow down the
process. They ought to be leaders. This is a time when great decisions are being made and he they ought to lead. You have been described as being a man of great optimism and I can see this is true from the way you paint the picture of the future. Apparently you don't feel that we're going to be just another economic and political world power another Rome when other Carthage we can have power but also idealism. I think we're showing that and I think that's part of the protest of our young people that's why I think that much of what they're doing is so necessary. I think they're trying to put some human values into our economic values. I think they're trying to put some political bad news into our economic bad news. My generation had to fight for jobs and an income that I had when the child of the depression this generation my sons and daughters had to make that income and those jobs related to human values and higher values and we had besides just money and and income.
My generation was the victim of aggression of isolation. So we put together collective security. I think we may be overdone it this generation is going to have to take a reassessment of the role of America in the world and Dabbous come to understand that military power and economic power is not enough. That there are new kinds of power. The power of ideas of ideals. The problem the power of involvement and helping other people build a better life. So I I feel that this is happening. You see I know that we're going through a period of agony. But it's out of the agony that you build character. And we're beginning to put some character in American life now it's coming and with it's coming away with fits and starts it's coming with turmoil but nothing good is born without pain and no change is ever come because a majority wanted it to change it comes from minorities committed dedicated minorities majorities merely ratified change. And so
I'm by my optimism is not a false one it's that I that I see that young people today are not against our ideals. They want us to fulfill our ideals they're not against the American promise. They want us to keep the promise. And I think this is what's good about what's going on. And I for one am not going to let a few Red Hots demagogues a doctrinaire dogmatic souls a practice of hooligan tactics a handful. I'm not going to let them downgrade the efforts of hundreds of thousands of brilliant gifted talented young people who are trying to build a better life. In the past 30 minutes we have been talking in the backseat of a car moving through the woodlands of eastern Massachusetts talking with a man who in the feet out in the Great is certainly one of the most significant statesmen of 20th century American politics. Hubert Horatio operate as a prop. thank you very much.
The views and opinions expressed on the preceding program do not necessarily represent those of the program host Joes of our major Northeastern University or the station. Questions I asked were merely the moderators method of presenting many sides of today's topic. Northeastern University has brought you Hubert H Humphrey former vice president of the United States. Today's program Hubert Humphrey on The Politics of Dissent. Your program host has been Joseph Meyer bayberry Director Department of radio production. Urban confrontation is produced for the division of instructional communications of the nation's largest private university. Northeastern University comments on this program or a request for a recorded copy of any program in this series may be addressed to urban confrontation. Northeastern University Boston Massachusetts 0 2 1 1 5. In cooperation with the University of Massachusetts. This week's program was produced by Carolyn Gartrell and directed by Jeffrey Feldman technical supervision by John Barr.
- Urban Confrontation
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- Hubert Humphrey
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- Northeastern University (Boston, Mass.)
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- Urban Confrontation is an analysis of the continuing crises facing 20th century man in the American city, covering issues such as campus riots, assassinations, the internal disintegration of cities, and the ever-present threat of nuclear annihilation. Produced for the Office of Educational Resources at the Communications Center of the nations largest private university, Northeastern University.
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Producing Organization: Northeastern University (Boston, Mass.)
Speaker: Humphrey, Hubert H. (Hubert Horatio), 1911-1978
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